For the past 14 years a group of dedicated volunteers has been working to establish a hiking, cycling and horseback riding route between Meaford and Owen Sound.
Since there is no abandoned railway corridor between the two towns, a route had to be found using unopened road allowances and little used back roads.
Known as the Tom Thomson Trail because it passes near the family home and grave of Tom Thomson in Leith, the completed route meanders through the scenic countryside north of Highway 26 between Owen Sound and Meaford. The Tom Thomson Trail is popular with hikers, cyclists, equestrians, dog-walkers, joggers, bird-watchers and a growing number of people geo-caching.
In Meaford the trail begins at Fred Raper Park where an information kiosk displays a map and a list of people and organizations who have contributed to the project. The route proceeds west along the paved shoulder of Highway 26, follows Grandview Drive to Centreville road then turns north onto the 7th Line. This road section of the trail turns west onto the 22nd Side-road to Grey Road 112.
A mini-kiosk and grass parking area mark the beginning of the semi-wilderness section from Grey Road 112 to Roebuck Campground near the 11th Line. This 2 km section of trail, rated moderate in difficulty, is one of the most varied of the entire route with some gravel surface, boardwalks, narrow dirt path, steep switch-back trail and two stream crossings.
The Tom Thomson Trail is designated as a three season trail and the section from the 11th Line to the Town-line along a little used logging road changes with the seasons. The forest floor is covered with a myriad of wild flowers in the spring; the high canopy of sugar maples provides a cool, shaded route in the summer; the autumn colours of the hardwood forest are the highlight of a fall hike. Although upgrades are being planned for the wetter spots along this section the trail is now accessible to hikers, mountain bikers and trail riders.
The route follows the Town-line north, skirting the Bayview Park Reserve then on through the rolling farmland to Leith and Owen Sound.
The Tom Thomson Trail Group is a volunteer organization which raises funds through corporate and individual donations and is supported by the Municipality of Meaford and the City of Owen Sound. Funds are used to maintain and upgrade the trail including building boardwalks through wet areas, surfacing sections of the trail with gravel and limestone, adding signs and maps and planting trees. More information on the Tom Thomson Trail is available at www.tomthomsontrail.com or in Meaford phone Greg or Suzanne at 538-0517.